William Barnes - Dorset Poet
William Barnes was born in 1801 at
Bagber, near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset. He was educated locally
and worked as a solicitor's clerk until 1823, when he became a schoolmaster.
In 1827 he married Julia Miles. Her death, in 1852, affected him deeply;
many of his poems describe his love for her. He was ordained in 1848 and
was appointed curate at Whitcombe near Dorchester. Barnes died in 1886;
his obituary in the Saturday Review read: 'There is no doubt that
he is the best pastoral poet we possess, the most sincere, the most genuine,
the most theocritan; and that the dialect is but a very thin veil hiding
from us some of the most delicate and finished verse written in our time.'
Amongst his books of poetry are
Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect (1844), Hwomely Rhymes
(1859), both written in the Dorset dialect, and Poems of Rural Life
in Common English (1868).
I have selected several poems purely
on the basis of their effect on me, a native of Dorset and one who still
remembers how the dialect was spoken by his older relatives.
Girt Woak Tree
The Young that
Died in Beauty
The Geate a-Vallen
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